A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

How the Lakers can have a smart offseason

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Since Dr. Jerry Buss died, the Lakers have embodied the worst traits of the James Dolan era Knicks. They’ve gone after big names and big contracts and have dealt away picks instead of keeping them. They spend assets instead of collecting them.

If they continued down this route, their offseason will involve major spending or big name trading. Think signing Carmelo Anthony to a maximum contract when they don’t have the roster to win before he declines, or trading their draft pick for Rajon Rondo in hopes that’ll be enough to sign Kevin Love next summer. Dealing for aging stars or ones on short contracts, is a dangerous game that could set them back years.

Here’s the type of summer I’d recommend for the Lakers. It’s not as sexy, but it’s a smart move that fits the modern NBA landscape.

Say the Houston Rockets get their mitts on a major free agent like Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh. But to do it they need to clear capspace, by moving Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik’s contracts.

The Lakers are far under the cap and in a great position to take advantage of this. They also have the deepest pockets in the league, allowing them to barely blink at paying 30 million in real money for 16.8 million cap hit between Asik and Lin. The Rockets trade the Lakers Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and their 1st round pick next year, for a Lakers conditional 2nd round pick. This clears the Rockets enough capspace to sign Carmelo while keeping the rest of their starting lineup in Patrick Beverly, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard. Carmelo presumably have to take a discount on his first year salary compared to what the Knicks could offer, but would still be inked to a huge salary.

This puts the Lakers in a very nice position. Not only do they get talented young bigs in Terrence Jones who could break out on a new team, Donatas Motiejunas and a pick, but Lin and Asik are even good for their roster, filling a need at PG and C. If not extended, both Lin and Asik expire next summer, allowing the salary obligation to be as short lived as Utah taking Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson’s deals for a year.

Using their capspace to build their asset base like this, is the type of move the Lakers need to look at in the modern CBA model. The days of outspending everyone are gone and the other 29 teams are getting too smart. The Lakers can’t run from how small market teams succeed, they need to embrace it, then add their money advantages on top of this. They need to become basketball’s Boston Red Sox, who realized if they invested in prospects and analytics like small markets have no choice but to do, but then have more money and free agent allure than the rest of the league at the same time, they could be unstoppable. Likewise if the Lakers started hording young players and draft picks like the Thunder, when added to their historically massive star and free agent appeal, they combination could cream the league for decades to come again.

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Written by jr.

May 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm

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